26 July 2021

What is Dupuytren’s disease?

Morbo di Dupuytren

Symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of Dupuytren’s disease

Dupuytren’s disease is a progressive disease of the hand.  It is an abnormal thickening of the palmar aponeurosis, i.e. the connective tissue located on the palm of the hand just below the skin surface. This disease causes the formation of a cord, a nodule, which determines the permanent flexion of one or more fingers toward the palm, preventing joint mobility.


The main symptom is the presence of these nodules, that can be easily felt and sometimes also seen. This can be associated with pain, difficulty holding objects, and itching.  Usually, the fingers affected by Dupuytren’s disease are the ring and the little finger, but sometimes the thumb and middle finger can also be involved. This condition may affect one or both hands.

What causes Dupuytren’s disease?

To date, there is no certainty about the underlying causes of this disease, but some studies identify genetics as a determinant factor.  Patients with Dupuytren’s disease often have close relatives (parents, siblings) with this disorder. Statistical studies have also shown a predisposition to the development of this pathology in people who:

  • have diabetes
  • take anticonvulsants to treat epilepsy
  • suffered an important trauma to the hand or wrist
  • smoke
  • drink large quantities of alcohol


Given the specific signs of this disease, a physical examination of the hand and the description of the symptoms by the patient are sufficient for a diagnosis. Usually, after this first assessment, the patient is referred to a hand specialist to evaluate the therapeutic alternatives.


There are several therapies for the treatment of this disease, the choice depends on the severity of the symptoms and on the evaluation of the specialist. Non-surgical treatments include radiation therapy and injections of collagenase clostridium histolycum.  Also from a surgical point of view, there are several options, more or less invasive: percutaneous needle fasciotomy, palmar fascictomy and fasciectomy. All treatments can have side effects and be more or less effective depending on individual clinical situations. For this reason, it is essential to contact a hand specialist in order to choose the most suitable therapeutic path.

The UPMC Institute for Health Chianciano Terme Orthopedics team is available for diagnosis and treatment of the most common diseases of the hand and wrist.

For further information: +39 0578 61198